Saturday, April 16, 2005

Mickey Kaus on Kerry's Vietnam Forms

Mickey Kaus: "Kerry's Secret Weapon: Polipundit notes the latest development in the agonizingly suspenseful wait for Sen. Kerry to sign the 3-page form releasing his military records. John Hurley, National Director of Vietnam Veterans for John Kerry, was asked... when Kerry would make good on his televised January 30 promise (to NBC's Tim Russert) to sign the form ('I will'): 'I don`t know. I`m sure its soon. He said he would sign it. He is going to sign it, Joe, and I am sure it won`t take that long.' I think I've figured it out: There is so much positive, helpful information for Kerry in those military records that he's waiting until January, 2008 to sign the form! Hillary won't know what hit her. "

The Media Really Dislikes Bolton

Bolton's Hair: No Brush With Greatness : "John Bolton, President Bush's nominee for ambassador to the United Nations, desperately needs a haircut. It does not have to be a $600 Sally Hershberger cut. Bolton simply needs the basics. Tidy the curling, unruly locks at the nape of his neck, tame the volume at the crown, reel in the wings flapping above his ears, and broker a compromise between his sand-colored mop and his snow-colored mustache.
He needs to do this, not because he should be minding the recommendations of men's fashion magazines or grooming experts but because when he settled in before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week to answer questions about his record, his philosophy and his intentions at the U.N., he looked as though he did not even have enough respect for the proceedings to bother combing his hair -- or, for that matter, straightening his tie, or wearing a shirt that did not put his neck in a chokehold. Bolton was one wrinkled suit away from being an insolent mess. "

10,000 Fugitives Are Captured

10,000 Fugitives Are Captured In Huge Dragnet : "The U.S. Marshals Service and local police agencies arrested more than 10,000 fugitives last week in an aggressive nationwide sweep that ranks as the largest single dragnet in U.S. history, the Justice Department announced yesterday.
The campaign -- dubbed Operation Falcon and timed to coincide with National Crime Victims' Rights Week -- included the arrests of more than 160 murder suspects, 550 sexual assault suspects, and more than 150 alleged gang members, officials said...
Criminal-justice experts said that by apprehending thousands of fugitives in a matter of days, the operation underscored the low priority that law enforcement agencies often give to locating people who have jumped bail, violated parole or otherwise evaded state and federal courts.

"The dirty little secret is that there usually is not enough effort and manpower put into apprehension of fugitives," said David A. Harris, a law professor at the University of Toledo who studies criminal-justice issues. "Most fugitives are aware of this, and it makes the system a joke. . . . It's never been a top priority."

Lethal Injections Called Flawed

"Some prisoners executed by lethal injection might be so inadequately sedated that they are awake enough to suffer agonizingly painful deaths, according to a study.
Researchers who studied blood samples of inmates after executions found that more than 40 percent contained levels of anesthesia so low that the prisoners might have been conscious during their executions. They also found that executioners in Virginia and Texas, homes to the nation's busiest death chambers, were not trained to administer anesthesia. The authors of the study, published this week in the British medical journal the Lancet, called for a moratorium on lethal injections.

"There seems to be a significant fraction of the condemned who are aware" when injected, said Leonidas G. Koniaris, associate professor of surgery at the University of Miami and the study's lead author. "Very few were actually at a sufficient level to qualify as a properly done animal euthanization."

Congress Moving to Tackle Spyware

"An anti-spyware bill could clear the U.S. House of Representatives as early as next week, but final legislation is not expected to be sent to the White House until disagreements about what qualifies as 'spyware' are ironed out by key technology interest groups and lawmakers...

Three separate proposals have been introduced in Congress so far this year -- two in the House and one in the Senate. A bill sponsored by Rep. Mary Bono (R-Calif.) appears to have the most momentum, earning the backing of Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), chairman of the influential Energy and Commerce Committee.

"The consumer should have the right to know what's going on with their computer. It's their property and they should know what's happening. The bottom line is that people cannot install something on your computer and track you and eat up all the processing power on your computer without your consent," Bono said. "

The Australian: Left on the wrong side of history

The Australian: Left on the wrong side of history : "A foreign policy without principle will fail because it is fundamentally sterile. That is why unadorned so-called 'realism' in foreign policy, with its emphasis on stability and the status quo, can sound clever and sophisticated but in the end implodes under its own emptiness. But principle must be pursued with pragmatism and with patience if it is not to end in recklessness and aggression.
The key thing for those on the Left to understand is that intense dislike of Bush and echoes of Vietnam do not make a foreign policy. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Bolton - they too will pass. What will go on is the great human desire to be free, which should be at the core of our foreign policy. The great danger for the Left is that its Vietnam and Bush obsessions may mean that it will end up on the wrong side of history. "

Big Sugar

Stephen Moore and Phil Kerpen: "Americans spend about $2.5 billion more a year in higher prices for sugar and food items that contain sugar than if this country enjoyed a free market in sugar...
...One impact of the artificially high price of sugar is that candy makers and other domestic food producers that use sugar as an ingredient have started to export their production facilities in order to get lower cost sugar to keep their prices competitive. A few years ago, Life Savers, the producer of hard candy, moved its operations to Canada to have access to lower-priced sugar. Thousands of jobs are lost in just this way...
...Consumers should be king in cases like this, not the deep-pocketed lobbyists who are employed by Big Sugar. This industry has enjoyed nearly two centuries of protection and has never been competitive. It’s time to put the interests of millions of consumers ahead of the handful of influential sugar producers.
"Big Sugar" is firmly against CAFTA. Again, CAFTA is good for America unless you are in the sugar business or have some other special interests.

Victor Davis Hanson: 'Our Not-So-Wise Experts'

Victor Davis Hanson: "We've seen some very strange things since this war started on September 11. But nothing is quite as odd as the past architects of failure weighing in on the dangers of "neoWilsonianism," "neoconservative ideologues," and veiled references to Israeli machinations, as the Bush administration finally sets right three decades these people's flawed policies and tries to promote a new Americanism based on our own universal values and aspirations...
The past ostracism of Arafat and the removal of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, followed by democratic engagement, will bring eventual stability to the Middle East and enhance the security of the United States. After the failures of all our present critics, this new policy of promoting American values is our last, best hope. And the president will be rewarded long after he leaves office by the verdict of history for nobly sticking to it when few others, friend or foe, would. "

Friday, April 15, 2005

Edwards Still Campaigning with Public Money

From the Raleigh NC "Edwards, a former Democratic vice presidential candidate and North Carolina senator, believes Americans should be alarmed by the current tax trends in Washington, according to the text of a speech he was to deliver Thursday evening in New York.

While Edwards has deflected questions about his own presidential ambitions in 2008, he has been moving around the country, speaking in 15 states since January, excluding North Carolina.

He is also planning to enhance his foreign policy credentials by visiting the United Arab Emirates and England next month, and India in the fall, according to Kim Rubey, his spokeswoman. He is also scheduled to speak next month to the national Teamsters convention in Las Vegas.

I am sure someone can explain how Edwards' schedule supports his role for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill which is a public, state run and funded school. I can't explain how this works or even legal let alone ethical.

Let's speculate that if Sen. Elizabeth Dole retired from the Senate that UNC-CH would create a position for her to travel around the country and the world to "fight poverty" - I can hear the screams now from the media but for Edwards the media apparently believes this is a fine role for a state employee.

Catholic Schools On a Roll in Raleigh NC Diocese

Carolina Journal Catholic Schools On a Roll in Triangle: "Like all private and parochial schools in North Carolina, the schools of the Raleigh Diocese are required by state law to administer "nationally standardized" tests to students in third, sixth and ninth grade. The diocese has chosen the Iowa Test of Basic Skills as the benchmark test through eighth grade, and administers the test for each grade. Students' percentile rankings among other students nationwide taking the test are in the eighties. The schools' percentile rankings among other schools nationwide taking the test are in the nineties.

Fedewa says the tests are given in the fall, so that teachers can see the results and diagnose the strengths and weaknesses of their students. Instruction does not center around the tests, Fedawa said: There is "no high-stakes testing."

Tuition at the Catholic schools varies from $3,000 to $5,000 per year, Fedewa said. According to Immaculate Conception's Web site, tuition in the K-8 program (and in a pre-kindergarten program) varies according to various factors: from $5,294 for families unaffiliated with a Roman Catholic parish, to $4,015 for families affiliated specifically with Immaculate Conception parish (families who enrolled multiple children before 1999 get tuition discounts, but large families whose children enroll later than 1999 no longer get discounts). Financial aid is sometimes offered for poor families."
A nice example of school success. So why don't we have a voucher program and allow the market to improve public schools?

The AMT this Tax Day

WSJ's lead editorial this morning - OpinionJournal : "the silver lining of the AMT is that it will drive blue-state Democrats into the tax reform debate later this year. Their own constituents will be demanding some relief. So far this year, Republicans are again proposing a temporary AMT fix that would spare some taxpayers from its clutches for another year or two. But maybe they should instead let this class-war Frankenstein continue to terrorize the liberal countryside until Democrats have no choice but to support major change when the President's Tax Reform Commission reports in July.

Who knows, this entire AMT experience might even induce liberals to reconsider the wisdom of soak-the-rich tax policy. At least we can dream. Happy April 15th. "

Tax Watch: Use Children to Shelter Income

TaxWatch: Making wise tax choices as a family is not child's play - : "they started eldest daughter Gracie out with $12,000 at birth, adding no more than $13,000 until college graduation. By investing well, that account produced enough money to pay for 13 years of private school and 4 years of college -- about $300,000 in total. "
Maybe I'll be a tax lawyer...

Economist Looks at US Open in Pinehurst

The Price is Right:Three Years in Advance: "How much are you willing to pay for U.S. Open golf championship tickets to Pinehurst this June, plus a place to stay during the event? Some tournament patrons have paid up to $50,000 for a one-week rental house in past years. In the rental housing market, prices for the week are determined strictly by 'what the traffic will bear' -clearly a hefty amount for a premium rental location. Private homeowners can offer rentals for up to two weeks, if they wish, without having to pay tax on rental income they receive during the Open....

...But there's more to price than meets the eye in this case. Local accommodations for the U.S. Open in Pinehurst required as much as three years of advance planning, booking, and waiting time. If reports are correct, 2,700 rooms in Moore County were booked solidly for the 2005 U.S. Open back in 2002. Would-be renters for the event have incurred costs in the form of advance reservations, deposits, and payments in ways that raise price beyond the number of dollars alone involved in the process."

Does waiting really add to the "cost" of an item for the consumer? Yes, though the added costs are mostly opportunity costs, options and opportunities that we miss while we spend time and other resources during the waiting period. Of course, all of the vendors could have eliminated the wait by simply hiking the dollar price of their product. That would eliminate rationing by patience, forethought, or luck, none of which offer a manifestly "better" or more "fair" outcome than simple, efficient money prices.

In markets, those that want the goods immediately can get them, if they offer a price attractive to sellers. And that amounts to plan coordination without the three-year time horizon."

Thursday, April 14, 2005

A Very Personal Column from George Will: 'Eugenics By Abortion'

Eugenics By Abortion: "In America, more than 80 percent of the babies diagnosed prenatally with Down syndrome are aborted. This is dismaying to, among others, the American Association of People with Disabilities, whose premise is that 'disability is a natural part of the human experience.'
...One mother who participated in a study of 3,000 members of five state associations of parents of Down syndrome children reported that when, in 1999, she was told that the baby she was expecting had Down syndrome, a geneticist showed her "a really pitiful video first of people with Down syndrome who were very low tone and lethargic-looking and then proceeded to tell us that our child would never be able to read, write or count change." Try telling that to Jon Will as he navigates Washington's subway system to use his season tickets to the Wizards basketball games and (soon) Nationals baseball games.

When he was born in 1972 -- a time when an episode on a network television hospital drama asserted that people with Down syndrome could not be toilet-trained -- the hospital geneticist asked Jon's parents if they intended to take him home. That question is, surely, no longer asked when Down syndrome babies are born. But there are modern pressures to prevent such babies from being born, pressures that include the perfection-is-an-entitlement attitude of some expecting parents...."
Such a sad serious issue, pour out your heart and read this and think about the implications. My parents have a dear neighbor with a Down's son who is the most remarkable precious person you will ever meet who has more smiles and laughs in a day than most of us have in a week...

Yes, I Support CAFTA "State textile leaders descended Wednesday on Washington, arguing that the proposed Central American Free Trade Agreement would bolster -- and perhaps grow -- their faltering business.
Former U.S. Rep. Cass Ballenger also returned to testify at a House hearing on the trade agreement. Ballenger, a Republican from High Point, formerly chaired the International Relations subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere.
He downplayed Democratic concerns about whether labor laws in Central America are strong enough to protect workers. Ballenger said that without the agreement, even more business would go to China.
'Then we won't have to worry whether they're enforcing labor laws,' Ballenger said. 'There won't be any jobs down there.'

...Also Wednesday, the Senate Finance Committee held its first CAFTA hearing, marked by vehement protests from the sugar industry about what imported sugar would do to the U.S. market.

Many members of the state's delegation are undecided on the agreement, one of President Bush's top trade priorities. They say they worry about further job losses and unintended consequences."
I believe in free trade. I also believe in government support for workers who lose jobs due to the short-sightedness of owners who have failed to plan and manage for the future. Free trade helps everybody both in jobs and cost of products and is an economic law that is immutable.

The CIA Operative Kerry Outed Speaks Today in WSJ on John Bolton and the US Senate

OpinionJournal - Featured Article: "John Bolton has served our nation well in many posts under three presidents. He deserves to be confirmed. But regardless of the outcome of the hearings, he has provided another valuable service: he has revealed Senate hearings to be the weapon of choice of vicious and anonymous staffers and their narcissistic bosses to engage in character assassination and ideological vendettas. But more important to our national security in this time of war, he has uncovered a dangerous willingness by some senior intelligence officers to protect underlings who have been promoted to their highest level of incompetence. The intelligence community is our first line of defense against today's enemies. In seven different government positions, I have worked with hundreds of these skilled and brave officers and have witnessed their unselfish dedication to our nation. Practically any of them could make much more money working for a private consulting firm and thus provide a more comfortable life for his family than the inadequate government salary allows. When a bad apple is allowed to spoil the barrel of intelligence information, then not only does the reputation of good officers suffer; so, too, does the security of our nation.
Mr. Reich, formerly President Bush's special envoy for the Western Hemisphere, is a consultant in Washington. "

Christianity in Europe

WSJ again: "Practicing Christianity in Europe today enjoys a status not dissimilar to smoking marijuana or engaging in unorthodox sexual activities--few people mind if you do so in private, but you are expected not to talk about it or ask others whether they do it too. Christianity is considered retrograde and atavistic in a 'progressive' society devoted to the good life--long holidays, short work hours and generous government benefits....
...Europe's atheistic humanism. Without a religious dimension, Mr. Weigel notes, a commitment to human freedom is likely to be attenuated, too weak to make sacrifices in its name. Europe's political elites especially, but its citizens as well, believe in freedom and democracy of course, but they are reluctant to put the "good life" on hold and put lives on the line when freedom is in need of a champion--say, in the Balkans or, especially, in Iraq."
Is this what is going to happen to America?

Peggy Noonan: A Story About Selecting the Pope

OpinionJournal: "The Cardinal -A story about selecting the new pope.

...In the polls on churchgoing and belief it's always Catholics on the street in Europe and America who say they want change and reform. They'd been saying it for years! And yet it was Catholics on the street from Europe and America--real nobodies, not to be impolite but just regular Catholics--who engulfed Rome to weep and yell Santo, Santo! ...

...You sit and think: We have to consider what the crowds signified, what the outpouring meant. Maybe God was telling us something. "
A wonderful, thoughtful column thats says so much so well.

SC Gov Sanford - A Man to Watch

Today is a great WSJ day - OpinionJournal: "Last year, Republican Gov. Mark Sanford carried two squealing piglets into the Statehouse to make a point against pork. This year, he brought a horse and buggy to the Statehouse entrance to argue against South Carolina's outmoded system of governance.

The common themes in Mr. Sanford's broad reform agenda include market competition, fiscal conservatism and government accountability.

As governor, he has encountered strong opposition from legislative Democrats who continue to fight his efforts to create private school competition to public education and to sharply cut the rate of individual income taxes. Senate Democrats, in particular, remain a force....
...the governor is being mentioned as a national political candidate because of his consistent conservatism, engaging "aw shucks" manner and winning campaign record. Recently, the Cato Institute rated him fifth on its Fiscal Policy Report Card on America's Governors. (The folks at Cato will be pleased to know that he has informally indicated his intention to run for a second term.)

Though idiosyncratic in his approach to the Legislature, Mr. Sanford enjoys a level of popularity that even his detractors acknowledge. Last year, a poll done on behalf of the governor's office showed popular support for his legislative agenda--and displeasure with legislators who oppose it."

The Economist: After John Paul II

Who's Next? Theirs to Decide Posted by Hello "A NEW global togetherness flashed into being, and immediately began to disintegrate. That is how future historians may record the funeral of John Paul II on Friday April 8th, which was attended by hundreds of thousands of people and watched on television by perhaps as many as 2 billion, one-third of the human race.
Thanks mainly to the electronic possibilities which the pope used so well, his passing has generated, at least for a fleeting moment, an intense feeling of fraternity, and common destiny, among people in most corners of the earth. Of these, about 1.1 billion, or roughly 17% of mankind, are adherents of his faith; a huge number of others admired him from a greater distance.

For the pope’s keenest admirers, the two most striking features of the Catholic church in the years to come—whatever decisions are taken now—will be the lack of John Paul’s physical presence, and his influence as a source of inspiration. There is probably no other leader in the world whose funeral would be attended by both America’s George Bush and Iran’s Muhammad Khatami, and inspire fulsome tributes from them and from Cuba’s Fidel Castro. Nor, in the history of Christendom, has there been a prelate whose willingness to build bridges, and acknowledge past misdeeds, has drawn so many tributes from observant Jews, pious Muslims and non-Catholic Christians who are instinctively suspicious of Rome.

He assumed the papacy at a time when its importance in global affairs, along with that of most other religious institutions, seemed set to decline. He bequeaths a church which shows no sign of bowing out or running out of steam. Yet underneath the fanfare and the outpouring of grief, there is an uneasy feeling that the church faces not one but a series of overlapping existential challenges which no individual, however gifted or charismatic, can cope with alone.

Saintly pastor or able executive?

The next pope will need the votes of two-thirds of the 116 cardinal-electors. So a candidate can be blocked by the votes of 39. The Latin American cardinals alone can muster 21, and could probably count on the support of many of the other voters from the developing world. Intriguingly, under rules brought in by John Paul in 1996, in the event of a deadlock the two-thirds threshold can be dropped to a simple majority—if more than half the cardinals agree that this should happen.

Should a deadlock occur, it has always been assumed that the conclave could turn to someone of great spirituality.

Others, however, still feel that running a global organisation with 4,700 senior executives (bishops) and 400,000 line managers (priests) requires a capable executive rather than a saintly pastor. "

PJPII Funeral Mass Posted by Hello

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Abortion Lowers the Crime Rate

In WSJ's Leisure & Arts:
"Back in 1999, Mr. Levitt was trying to figure out why crime rates had fallen so dramatically in the previous decade. He was struck by the fact that crime began falling nationwide just 18 years after the Supreme Court effectively legalized abortion. He was struck harder by the fact that in five states crime began falling three years earlier than it did everywhere else. These were exactly the five states that had legalized abortion three years before Roe v. Wade.

Did crime fall because hundreds of thousands of prospective criminals had been aborted? Once again, the pattern by itself is not conclusive, but once again Mr. Levitt piles pattern on pattern until the evidence overwhelms you. The bottom line? Legalized abortion was the single biggest factor in bringing the crime wave of the 1980s to a screeching halt.

Mr. Levitt repeatedly reminds us that economics is about what is true, not what ought to be true. To this reviewer's considerable delight, he cheerfully violates this principle at the end of the abortion discussion by daring to address the question of whether abortion ought to be legal or, more precisely, whether the effect on crime rates is a sufficient reason to legalize abortion. "
Mr. Landsburg, an economics professor at the University of Rochester, is the author of this book review of "Freakonomics" by Steven Levitt. Dr. Levitt is the most recent winner of the John Bates Clark award for the best economist under the age of 40.

Miniter on the Tax Code

WSJ - The Western Front: "The tax cuts Congress enacted during the president's first term are set to expire in 2010, and the commission is starting with the assumption that those cuts are made permanent. It's almost as if President Bush has been fitting the puzzle pieces together from the beginning of his presidency knowing that one day, this is where he would be. Congress now has to act or in just a few years a massive tax increase--including steep death tax rates and an income tax rate approaching 40%--will fall on the nation.
That brings us back to the question many Americans are asking as they try to make sense of the part of the tax code that applies to them: Is this all really necessary? Thankfully Congress may finally get around to asking that question itself."

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Kerry Names CIA Operative

Senators May Have Named CIA Operative : "Senators may have blown the cover of a covert CIA officer yesterday...
the committee chairman, Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), and Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) mentioned a name that had not previously come up in public accounts of the intelligence flap.

In questioning Bolton, Kerry read from a transcript of closed-door interviews that committee staffers conducted with State Department officials before yesterday's hearing.

"Did Otto Reich share his belief that [the person in question] should be removed from his position? The answer is yes," Kerry said, characterizing one interview. "Did John Bolton share that view?" Kerry asked. Again, he said the answer was yes.

"As I said, I had lost confidence in Mr. Smith, and I conveyed that," Bolton replied. "I thought that was the honest thing to do."

What a Soldier Learned in Iraq

A personal story from a soldier returned from Iraq in WSJ's OpinionJournal : "There are no longer generators running, or armored vehicles rumbling, or mortars exploding, and the roar of the silence is deafening to me. What I hear at night now is the gentle breaths released from the perfect lips of my sons. The same lips that I cannot kiss enough. The lips that make my eyes fill with tears every time they touch my cheeks.
My release from Fort Drum came earlier than expected, so when I pulled into my driveway at noon the house was empty. I dropped my bags inside and walked alone through the rooms, soaking in the images and smells that had been only a memory during ten months in Iraq.
My older son's first-grade teacher had been wonderful to me while I was away. She sent school updates and pictures via e-mail almost weekly. So when I popped my head into her classroom she came running and gave me a 'welcome home' hug.
'Easton is practicing a song. Why don't you surprise him?'"
Read it all and pass it on.

Watergate in Canada

Scandal Threatens Canadian Government ( "Canadians call it their Watergate -- a kickback scandal that has badly damaged the Liberal Party and now threatens to bring down the government of Paul Martin...

The scandal, based on a secret program that dates back to the 1990s and the Liberal Party leadership of former Prime Minister Jean Chretien, erupted anew last Thursday when a judge probing the alleged misuse of public funds lifted a publication ban on testimony by a Montreal ad executive.

The executive, Jean Brault, who faces fraud charges stemming from the now-defunct program, told the federal inquiry that senior Liberals forced him to secretly divert more than $818,000 to the party's Quebec wing in exchange for sponsorship contracts. During his six days of testimony, Brault spoke of hushed-up payments to Liberals in restaurants, money being given to a brother of Chretien, and reluctant contributions strong-armed out of employees.

Brault said he got $141 million in government business for his firm.

Chretien and Martin have vehemently denied any personal knowledge of wrongdoing.

"The problem with corruption, when it occurs -- and Watergate was a good example of this in the United States -- it undermines confidence in not just the people who are involved, but in the institution that they represent. That's the real worry," said Wesley Cragg, head of Transparency International Canada, a global anti-corruption coalition. "

Monday, April 11, 2005

Clinton and Bowles at the UN

Clinton To Serve 2 Years as U.N. Envoy ( "Former president Bill Clinton will spend at least two years in his new role as the top U.N. envoy promoting recovery in tsunami-hit countries and demanding accountability for the unprecedented billions of dollars donated by countries and individuals, his deputy said.
Erskine B. Bowles said Clinton will also push for the construction of better homes, schools and hospitals in areas devastated by the killer waves and the adoption of new measures to warn against disasters and ensure quick action by governments when they occur. "
Read this all; especially the role of Erskine Bowles, a candidate for the US Senate who lost to Richard Burr (R-NC) last November, is fascinating to Southern political junkies.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Kristof Predicts Married Priests

Let Fathers Be Fathers: "Here's my prophecy about the next pope: He will allow married men to become priests...

No one understands the desperate need for clergy more than the cardinals themselves. In fact, John Paul II himself laid the groundwork for an end to the celibacy requirement...

Polls show that 70 percent of American Catholics believe priests should be able to marry. David Gibson, author of "The Coming Catholic Church," quotes Cardinal Roger Mahony as telling him that it's reasonable to raise the issue and adding: "We've had a married clergy since Day 1, since St. Peter."

As my Times colleague Peter Steinfels writes in "A People Adrift," his book about Catholics: "Today the Roman Catholic Church in the United States is on the verge of either an irreversible decline or a thoroughgoing transformation." Faced with that choice worldwide, losing ground to Pentecostals, the next pope will be forced to choose transformation.

Read it all. I think this will happen and personally I believe it is right...

Bush, Clinton, Bush

Bush picks brains of Clinton, father - The Washington Times: Nation/Politics - April 09, 2005: "President Bush solicited foreign policy advice from former President Bill Clinton at CIA briefings this week and even told Mr. Clinton that he liked his approach to reforming Social Security.

'It was really a lot of fun, Mr. Bush told reporters yesterday after spending three days with Mr. Clinton and former President George Bush in Rome. 'These CIA briefings a lot of time prompt policy discussions,' he added. 'It's interesting to get their points of view about their experiences in particular countries.'

The president also praised one of Mr. Clinton's domestic policies -- trying to reform Social Security. Both men have proposed personal savings accounts as part of the solution, an idea that is vociferously opposed by congressional Democrats. 'I was telling President Clinton I remember watching one of his town hall meetings in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on this very subject,' Mr. Bush said just hours after bidding farewell to his predecessor at the Rome airport. 'And I thought it was a very impressive presentation,' he added. 'By the way, a lot of the language happens to be pretty close to some of the town hall meetings we've had.'"